Walking in the valleys

How do you handle the tough times?

Valley with waterfall ahead
There is an old Arab proverb that says “All sunshine and no rain makes a desert.” I think what they are saying is you need both good times and bad times in your life to make you into a complete individual. So if you never have any dark times, you will have no depth or strength or maturity to face those times when they next come along.

In Davids most famous Psalm – Psalm 23, he talks about this when he refers to walking through “the valley of the shadow of death.” I guess, in many ways, people everywhere in the world are walking through that valley at the moment but they call it Covid19. 

In Australia, what had been done when Covid 19 first appeared, has meant only a few of us have walked that valley recently. But in other parts of the world, it’s a different story. Yet there are still people in Australia, who are grieving because of Covid 19, and many people who are struggling because they have lost their jobs. At the moment lots of people in Victoria locked down after another outbreak there. So people are facing a reality of never being that lost loved one again, of lost employment and mounting financial pressure and some have lost their health.

So how do you handle life when valleys come along? How can you avoid being dragged down by the shadows all around you?

You are not alone

The first thing to note is that you are not alone. In fact many people are walking down that same track. One person in Australia dies every three minutes fifteen seconds according to the ABS. So if you have lost someone recently, you are not the only one. We could say that about many other things as well – health issues, financial issues, loneliness issues etc.  That information may not help you that much if you are walking in a valley right now, but it ought to help us prepare for the next valley that will come our way. In other words, the valleys of life are inevitable. They will happen. It’s not a matter of if but when. So maybe we should get our mind around that fact and get prepared for the tough times ahead. Of course when things are going well we don’t like to think about these negative things but if you realise that one day your turn will come to face difficult issues, then it won’t surprise you so much when they do come.

Valleys are unpredictable

The second thing we ought to be aware of is that valleys are unpredictable. You usually can’t plan for them or schedule them. There are often some options in regarding your health treatment and scheduling those things is possible but the ones that come suddenly cant be predicted. If you have ever had a flat tyre, you know what I mean. It probably came at the worst possible moment. 

And sometimes a good day can become a bad day very quickly. All it takes is a phone call or a letter or a routine visit to the doctor. Disasters can come any day and will be usually at the worst possible moment. 

A recent visit to my urologist turned out that way for me. I have been keeping a check on my prostate issues for years as I hope you have! Then last year, he sent me for an MRI scan. The scan showed prostate problems but they were nothing new after all I’m over 70. But it also showed up another mark which urologists know nothing about (or so he said). So I was sent to a surgeon who ordered a few more tests and a biopsy and concluded it was a tumour but he said, its probably a secondary tumour and the primary tumour will be in the bowel. So all of a sudden my week went from “there’s a little mark on this scan” to “everything is out of control and you have to have surgery quickly.” Things can change suddenly in your life too!

Valleys are impartial

The third thing we need to know is that disasters and valleys are impartial. No one is immune to them. If you take a look around the place you will quickly discover good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. I think a quick look around the world will tell you thats true. I sometime ask myself “how can they get away with that?”  Jesus once said “It rains on the jut and the unjust” so he expected good things and bad thing will happen to anybody.

Its pretty easy to fall into the trap of thinking you are in control of things you aren’t! So you ask yourself “what have I done to cause this cancer…” or whatever particular disaster is upon you. That friends, is usually the wrong question unless you have been smoking all your life and have lung cancer, or overeating and have a heart attack. Mostly things like cancers and other diseases are fairly random and almost certainly out of you hands.

All valleys end

The final thin to note about these valleys is that fact the Psalm says “even though I walk through the valley”. So David expected as can you and I, to walk out of the valley sometime. So even in the valley is full of dark shadows at the moment there should be sunshine ahead if you just hang on. 

Just dont give up

Now if you are walking in that deep valley, can I encourage you to ring someone and talk to them about the issue you are facing. Dont try to do it on your own. Reach out to someone – maybe someone in your family ir you can try LifeLine or even your local church. Just dont give up.

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